This early group would have settled close to the landing because of their transportation needs. It has been reported that the Miller family came ashore at the landing when they first arrived in Dyer County, somewhere between 1823 and 1829. The first official mention of Martin's landing was in 1874, when county records mentions Martin's Landing Road that ran to Rehobeth. Across the river and southwest from the landing stood another early landmark known as Nash's Bluff.
The Martin Family
The landing was evidently named for one of the first settlers, William Martin of Davidson County. William, the son of James and Winnie Martin, was born in March 1793, and married Sally Pierce, daughter of Thomas Pierce. Martin was listed as Dyer County's first register of deeds and also served as one the county's first magistrates. In 1825, William was chosen as one of the commissioners to lay out and sell lots in the new city of Dyersburg, and owned one lot himself according to the 1836 tax list. Samuel Cole Williams, an early West Tennessee historian, believed that Martin also helped select Dyersburg as the county seat, but it seems more likely that Capt. William Martin of Weakley County had served on that commission. The Pierce Family
Another early settler was Jeremiah Pierce, or "Jerry" as he was sometimes called. Jeremiah was born in Bertie County, North Carolina in 1790, but like the Martin family, had recently immigrated to Dyer County from Davidson County. Jeremiah served as a Captain of the 20th Tennessee Militia Regiment of Davidson County in 1813, but his unit was not called to active service during the war. On Nov. 19 of that same year, Martin married Sally Pierce. The couple was living in Davidson County as late as 1820. In 1827, Jerry was again elected captain, but this time of Dyer County's 85th Militia Regiment. Jerry and Sally had a son, Captain Albert Pierce, who married into the McCulloch family. Another Pierce who seems to have been connected with the same family, was Joseph Pierce, who lived in the same district. According to the 1840 Census, Joseph was engaged in manufacturing. At first it was unclear what Joseph was making until consulting his application at the Masonic Lodge, where it indicates that he manufactured saddles, since his occupation was given as saddler.
The Parker Family
Another prominent settler was Daniel E. Parker, the son of a Revolutionary War veteran. Parker had been born on June 9, 1789 in Halifax County, Virginia. Though Daniel did not arrive in Dyer County until 1826, he quickly became involved in community affairs. Parker helped lay out the civil districts of the county in 1836 and, like Jerry Pierce, was elected captain of the 85th Regiment. On the following year, Parker had been a member of the Trenton, Dyersburg and Mississippi Turnpike Company, which would have passed through his neighborhood. It is unclear how successful this venture was, but evidently the new road became the foundation for what would later become Highway 103 and Highway 104. In the same year Parker was selected to sit on a commission to improve the navigation of the Forked Deer River. By 1840 he was a well-established farmer, but was also teaching 12 students in a one-room schoolhouse in his spare time. Two years later Daniel was also elected magistrate for his district. There was also another Parker in the district by the name of Isaac. Isaac had been elected 2nd Lieutenant of the local militia in 1827 and was appointed postmaster of the community of Haleysburg from 1837 until 1841. Haleysburg would be renamed Grove Mount after Isaac was replaced as postmaster.
The Fizer Family Another member of the Trenton, Dyersburg and Mississippi Turnpike Company was John B. Fizer (sometimes called Fiser). Fizer, the son of Michael Fizer, had arrived in Dyer County from Robertson County, Tennessee, at an early date. Fizer seems to have lived a bit further north than the other settlers did. He was said to have come to Dyer County to locate land grants and was appointed the first surveyor for the county. We known he was elected lieutenant colonel of the 85th Regiment in 1834. In 1837 he was elected state representative from Dyer and Obion Counties. Three years later he owned a commercial business in downtown Dyersburg and applied for membership in the Masonic Lodge. Colonel Fizer would return to Robertson County and later move to Mississippi.
Another member of the same family was Colonel Fizer's nephew, John C. Fizer, whose father, M.D. Fiser, had served as a member of the Dyer County Court. M.D. Fiser and his family relocated to Panola County, Mississippi about the time of the Mexican War. Mr. Fiser died in Panola before September of 1852 and left John Rodgers to administer the land that he still owned in Dyer County. Young John then moved in with Colonel Fizer, who by that time was a prominent citizen of Mississippi. At age 15 he began clerking at a country store on the banks of the Tallahatchie River. He left his home in Panola about three years after his father's death and relocated at Memphis. While in this city, he was engaged in the cotton and Mercantile business, but soon the Civil War began and John became a General in the Provisional Army of Mississippi.
The Purcell Family
Another early family was the Purcell family, who, like the Parker family were from Halifax County, Virginia. Henry L. Purcell was an ensign in the Dyer County Militia as early as 1825. Dr. Osborne Purcell married the daughter of William Bowen and represented Dyer County in the convention of 1841. Later that year he entertained Sen. James K. Polk at his home, when Polk became ill on the campaign trail.
Next week we will continue the story of early Dyer County.